The Miami Police Department assigned 39 police officers to enforce the city’s mandatory mask order. In the last two weeks, the mask police started handing out citations to anyone who didn’t wear face coverings and even doled out fines to people who wore masks, but were not wearing them properly.
Miami-Dade County residents are required to wear face masks in all public spaces inside and outdoors. According to a Miami Herald article published on Thursday, the Miami-Dade Police Department have issued 162 citations to people caught violating the county’s mandatory mask order.
The coronavirus mask police handed out fines for noncompliance with the face mask order at convenience stores, barbershops, and country clubs. The fine for not wearing a mask is $100.
The Miami Herald reported that a woman was walking from a Publix grocery store in North Miami Beach to her car in the parking lot. Johanna Gianni took off her mask after exiting the store and was quickly approached by a police officer.
The cop issued her a ticket for not wearing a face mask in a public space. Gianni said the parking lot was nearly empty, and there was no one around her when she took off the mask.
The woman showed the police officer that she had a mask in her hand, but she was still given a ticket. She said the ticketing felt like a “set-up to catch shoppers after they followed the rules where it really mattered, inside the grocery.”
“I think they should make a judgment call,” Gianni said. “If you’re in the middle of a crowd and you’re walking without a mask, I get it. But if I’m walking back to my car in a semi-empty parking lot, I think you could cut me some slack.”
Dean Gonzalez has a similar story, except he was actually wearing a face mask when he was ticketed by the Miami mask police. Gonzalez was leaving the North Miami Beach Publix when two plainclothes cops approached him.
Gonzalez claims that he was wearing a face mask, but it slipped down “a little bit” while he was on the phone talking to his mother, and exposed his nose.
“You have to wear it properly,” one of the officers is heard saying on the video that Gonzalez recorded. “If you’re not wearing it properly, it’s like you’re not wearing it at all.”
The cops threatened to arrest him if he didn’t accept a $100 civil citation.
“Believe me bro, if you have a problem, this is directly from the mayor, so if you have to take it up with him,” the other officer told Gonzalez.
“It was like a trap,” Gonzalez told WPLG-TV. “It was a mask trap.”
“Use a little more common sense than ticketing people with masks on their actual face,” Gonzalez said. “Why don’t you go after people who have no mask.”
Ronald Setoute was inside a barbershop in North Miami waiting to get a haircut when he says he pulled his face mask down to his chin so that he could take a drink of water. Setoute alleges that a cop walked in and said he wasn’t wearing his mask properly, and then wrote him a ticket for $100.
Miami-Dade Police spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta said the citation is a new “tool” for police officers to use to enforce the zero-tolerance face mask order that was rolled out in the county’s “New Normal Guidelines.”
“Our intentions are basically to get a strong message of the importance of wearing these masks, the importance of social distancing, the importance of following the CDC guidelines, the importance of listening to the emergency orders,” Zabaleta said.
Also this week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) advised all residents to wear masks inside their homes to protect against families spreading COVID-19 to one another.
Miami-Dade man faces fine for wearing face mask the wrong way